Coenzyme Q10: The Health Benefits

Coenzyme Q10 is an anti-aging agent that is often advertised to prevent wrinkles. However, scientific studies show that Q10 has many more good properties. Q10 is produced in the body itself and is required in particular to generate energy. But Q10 also activates the immune system, strengthens the heart and nerves, and even increases fat burning. It is also suspected that Q10 can alleviate a common side effect of statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs), as it prevents statin-related muscle problems.

The body needs these substances to produce coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 is an endogenous substance that is produced by the body itself – especially in the liver cells. For the production of Q10, the organism needs certain amino acids (phenylalanine and tyrosine) as well as almost the entire vitamin B complex.

However, Q10 is also ingested through food. It is particularly found in animal foods because animals can also form coenzyme Q10 in their cells – just like we do in our cells. Coenzyme Q10 can of course also be taken as a dietary supplement, preferably with some fat, as it is a fat-soluble substance.

Coenzyme Q10 is irreplaceable for the energy supply of our body

In all our body cells – whether they are nerve cells, muscle cells, or heart cells – there are small energy power plants, the so-called mitochondria. In these mitochondria, nutrients (carbohydrates, fats, proteins) that we ingest with food can be converted into ATP in many individual steps with the help of oxygen and numerous enzymes. ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is the energy stored in our cells.

Since oxygen is required for this energy conversion, this process is also called the respiratory chain. Not only oxygen and enzymes are involved in the respiratory chain, but also vital substances and the coenzyme Q10. A coenzyme is not a real enzyme, but a kind of enzyme helper, which is of great importance for the work of the enzymes. The coenzyme Q10 plays an extremely important role in the last step of the respiratory chain and is therefore irreplaceable for the energy supply of our body.

If the body does not have enough coenzyme Q10 available, it cannot produce enough energy in the form of ATP. But the lack of Q10 has another negative effect. Similar to stress, free radicals are increasingly formed when there is a coenzyme Q10 deficiency. Excessive amounts of free radicals are harmful to our cells because they can attack and destroy cell membranes and other cell components. Free radicals contribute to accelerating cell aging and thus to human aging.

Coenzyme Q10 as an antioxidant

In order to defuse free radicals and protect our cells, our body needs a kind of police force. Antioxidants such as glutathione, vitamin C, or vitamin E assume this role. Coenzyme Q10 also has strong antioxidant properties and can intercept harmful free radicals. Therefore, the coenzyme Q10 not only takes on an important task for the energy supply but also for the entire cell health.

Coenzyme Q10 for a young complexion

The body’s own production of coenzyme Q10 decreases with increasing age, which also increases the production of free radicals. Free radicals cause our skin cells to age faster, which is why, conversely, a sufficient supply of Q10 through food or dietary supplements can stop skin aging.

Foods that contain coenzyme Q10 are, for example, nuts, onions, baby spinach, or vegetable oils such as sesame oil. Coenzyme Q10 is a very sensitive substance that is destroyed both by light and by heating. But coenzyme Q10 is also available as a dietary supplement. In special opaque containers, the activity of Q10 is very well preserved.

Coenzyme Q10 for a healthy cardiovascular system

However, antioxidants such as Q10 not only protect the beauty of our skin but also our heart and blood vessels. Coenzyme Q10 plays an important role in relation to cardiovascular diseases.

The results of a study, published in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism, showed that antioxidants such as Q10, vitamin E, vitamin C, and selenium are risk factors for cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, poor elasticity of the vessels and even bad cholesterol levels can improve significantly.

Coenzyme Q10 for healthy nerves

In addition to protecting blood vessels, coenzyme Q10 can also protect our nerves. Signs of aging of the nerves are almost always related to a disruption in the energy supply caused by impaired mitochondrial function. Q10 can improve the functionality of the small cell power plants and thus also help with some nervous diseases.

Coenzyme Q10 in Parkinson’s

In a 2002 study, the progression of Parkinson’s could be slowed down with the help of Q10. In this study, different amounts of coenzyme Q10 were tested in early-stage Parkinson’s disease patients over a period of 16 months. With the highest tested dose of 1.2 g of coenzyme Q10 per day, a significant improvement in the disease was observed. But even the lower amounts of Q10 led to an improvement in the condition of all patients.

However, a more recent study from 2014 showed no improvement in Parkinson’s symptoms after taking Q10. However, Q10 was not taken alone here, but a combination of Q10 with vitamin E. Q10 alone seems to be helpful in Parkinson’s disease, but not the combination with vitamin E.

Coenzyme Q10 against inflammation

Coenzyme Q10 apparently also has the property of curbing excessive inflammation. Q10 apparently regulates the release of a specific substance called NF-kappaB, which is responsible for activating inflammatory processes. Through this regulation, Q10 can additionally protect our nerve cells. This is because many nerve diseases – as well as aging processes – involve inflammation that can damage the cells.

Coenzyme Q10 for a strong immune system

There are numerous studies showing that the coenzyme Q10 can strengthen our immune system not only through its anti-inflammatory properties. For example, it has been shown that Q10, together with vitamin E, makes a major contribution to defending against viruses and bacteria by supporting our natural killer cells. To a certain extent, these natural killer cells are the front line of our defense, which, among other things, kill cells that are infected by viruses and thus curb the spread of the virus.

Coenzyme Q10 against infections

Another study showed that coenzyme Q10 and vitamin B6 make our immune system react faster to invaders because these two micronutrients boost the production of antibodies and certain immune cells. Scientists suspect that this effect of Q10 could even be important in the fight against infectious diseases, AIDS, and cancer.

Coenzyme Q10 against AIDS?

Another study showed that the severity of AIDS is related to a lack of Q10. Some AIDS patients were even able to suppress their symptoms with the help of Q10 in the early stages of the disease. Apparently, an adequate Q10 supply can support our immune system very well and therefore protect us from various diseases.

Coenzyme Q10 for strong muscles

Coenzyme Q10 not only provides the cardiovascular system and immune system with the power they need to function properly but also our muscles and fat burning. The ATP produced by the mitochondria is the fuel that powers our muscles in the first place.

Coenzyme Q10 in fibromyalgia

In studies with healthy middle-aged men, Q10 could lead to an increase in muscle strength. But even in people who have problems or even diseases of the muscles, the coenzyme Q10 can lead to an improvement. For example, patients with the muscle disease fibromyalgia could be helped by Q10.

This is because people with fibromyalgia have about 40% less Q10 in their cell membranes than healthy people. In a scientific experiment, the symptoms of the disease improved in 64% of the participants with the help of Q10.

Coenzyme Q10 promotes fat burning

Since the coenzyme Q10 is a great combination of energy suppliers and antioxidants, a dietary supplement with Q10 is also ideal for athletes. A great side effect of Q10 is that fat burning appears to be boosted from just consuming as little as 90 mg daily.

Coenzyme Q10 and brown adipose tissue

In order to understand this connection between Q10 and increased fat burning, you should first know a little about the so-called brown adipose tissue. Brown adipose tissue is very different from normal white adipose tissue, which mainly stores excess fat.

The brown adipose tissue is traversed by many nerves and blood vessels and contains an enormous number of mitochondria, which is where the brownish coloration and hence the name come from. This adipose tissue appears to play a role in adapting to colder temperatures. The special feature of brown adipose tissue is that it is able to convert 100% of our calories into heat compared to normal cellular energy production.

Coenzyme Q10 activates proteins called UCPs

Certain proteins – the so-called UCPs (uncoupling proteins) – are responsible for this calorie melting, which can only be found in brown adipose tissue. To a certain extent, these proteins decouple the normal cell energy supply and thereby cause 100% of the calories to be converted into heat.

The UCPs in brown adipose tissue can be activated by various factors. A study showed that Q10 can also activate these proteins and thus fat burning. This type of calorie burning is an ideal way to lose weight, as long as it is done in a healthy way.

Coenzyme Q10 reduces the risk of muscle problems when taking statins

Since statins ( cholesterol-lowering drugs ) also lower the Q10 level in the blood, this can lead to muscle problems (myopathies) – the most common side effect of statins. So if you must take statins, take an additional Q10 as a dietary supplement.

A connection could not be proven in all studies. However, since some symptoms improved, it is definitely worth trying, especially since Q10 has no side effects.

Coenzyme Q10 as a dietary supplement

All these points show that coenzyme Q10 not only contributes to the beauty of the skin but also to the overall health of the body. Especially in old age, a coenzyme Q10 food supplement can have a very revitalizing effect.

A combination of Q10 with vitamin E is said to achieve an even better effect since Q10 and vitamin E work closely together in many processes in the body.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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